The overlooked contribution of trees outside forests to tree cover and woody biomass across Europe

Sci Adv. 2023 Sep 15;9(37):eadh4097. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adh4097. Epub 2023 Sep 15.

ABSTRACT

Trees are an integral part in European landscapes, but only forest resources are systematically assessed by national inventories. The contribution of urban and agricultural trees to national-level carbon stocks remains largely unknown. Here we produced canopy cover, height and above-ground biomass maps from 3-meter resolution nanosatellite imagery across Europe. Our biomass estimates have a systematic bias of 7.6% (overestimation; R = 0.98) compared to national inventories of 30 countries, and our dataset is sufficiently highly resolved spatially to support the inclusion of tree biomass outside forests, which we quantify to 0.8 petagrams. Although this represents only 2% of the total tree biomass, large variations between countries are found (10% for UK) and trees in urban areas contribute substantially to national carbon stocks (8% for the Netherlands). The agreement with national inventory data, the scalability, and spatial details across landscapes, including trees outside forests, make our approach attractive for operational implementation to support national carbon stock inventory schemes.

PMID:37713489 | DOI:10.1126/sciadv.adh4097

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